Silent Movie Villains: Which Baddies Do You Love to Hate?

Sure, heroes are great and if we didn’t have them, who would arrive in the TA-DA nick to time? But a hero is only as good as the villain they battle. Silent movie villains are often written off as Victorian melodrama stock characters with mustaches and top hats. We know that reality is different and now is our chance to share our REAL favorite baddies.

I have to admit a weakness for Musidora’s bad girls in Louis Feuillade’s serials. Most of you know Irma Vep from Les Vampires, cabaret singer, thief and spy, but Diana Monti, the adventuress villain of Judex, is equally wickedly delightful.

Your turn! Please share your favorite baddies, both famous and obscure. Were they chilling? Were they eccentric? Were they humorous? Any flavor of wickedness is welcome!


  1. Marie Roget

    Oh, this one is easy for me: Blizzard (Lon Chaney) in The Penalty. A close second is Chaney again as Professor Echo, aka Granny O’Grady, in The Unholy Three.

  2. Scott Lueck

    There are a lot, but my favorite is Erich Von Stroheim in The Heart of Humanity. He’s the ultimate villain there, and he plays the part with such relish that it’s impossible not to hiss him when he comes on the screen.

  3. Shari Polikoff

    Any of Chaney and Von Stroheim’s villains are rightfully at the top of the list, but I would also make a place for Gladys Blackwell, as the whip-wielding evil sister Nana in ‘Seventh Heaven.’

  4. Gijs Grob

    Eric Campbell in Chaplin’s Mutual films, especially ‘Easy Street’. So sad he died in a car crash in 1917…

  5. R.D. Stock

    Von Stroheim is hard to beat for this dishonorable award, but I’ll go with Ernest Torrence in “Tol’able David.” This was the first film I saw him in, & I was pleasantly surprised later to find him in attractive & even tender roles (“Steamboat Bill, jr.,” “The King of Kings”). Great versatility!

  6. Doug Brown

    I have to go with Marie’s two Lon Chaney nominations. His Phantom of the Opera is also splendid— but is he truly bad, or just misunderstood ?

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